Coming Full Circle 15

Lawrence Dunham Vineyard Brings Winemaking Back to the Land

As the morning sun breaks through the lazy fog rolling down from the Chiricahua Mountains a peaceful hush falls over the land surrounding them. Down below, drops of fresh dew glisten off lush green leaves sprouting from seemingly endless rows of grapevines. A closer look reveals bunches of plump grapes, ripe for the picking and ready to share their plentiful bounty with the world.

At the same time, winemaker Curt Dunham wakes up, grabs a cup of steaming hot coffee and readies himself for the day’s work ahead. He steps outside, breathes in the crisp, fresh mountain air and beholds the sight before him—rows of lush grapevines as far as the eye can see, all of them his. This is Lawrence Dunham Vineyard.

A Winemaker’s Passion

To truly understand Dunham’s love of wine, one must start from the beginning, when he was just 16 years old. After taking a trip to Napa Valley, Dunham’s parents brought back a bottle of wine for their son to try. Little did they know that one sip of wine would open a whole new world for him.

“They brought back a bottle of 1974 George Latour Blue Vineyards Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and poured some for me, just to watch me turn into prune face,” recalls Dunham. “Then, to their surprise, I asked how they got the chocolate, cherries, blackberries and coffee into the wine. From that point on, I was enthralled.”

After some time, Dunham met his wife-to-be, Peggy, and the two of them began traversing the world in search of bespoke, boutique wines and the expert winemakers that devoted their lives to the art.

“Being anywhere that grapes are grown is beautiful, so we really enjoyed traveling all over and meeting and spending time with the winemakers,” says Dunham. “In the end, we had a great collection of some really cool boutique wines, and we had a story to go with each bottle.”

After some research and decision making, the couple decided to put down roots, quite literally, by the Chiricahua Mountains and start Lawrence Dunham Vineyard from scratch—a place built from a passion for harvesting the earth’s fruit and a deep respect for the land.

“Wine is a magical product, and the places that the grapes are grown are magical because they all impart their own characteristics into the fruit,” says Dunham. “Our site here is very unique with the soil’s volcanic composition; I’ve really never seen anything like it before.”

From the Land

At Lawrence Dunham Vineyard everything truly does come back to the earth.

“I have a philosophy that every time you touch the wine it gets further from the vineyard, and our goal is really to reflect the vineyard in our wines because it’s such an amazing spot,” says Dunham.

This commitment to preserving the purity of their wines extends all the way back to the land where the grapes are grown, which was a major factor in Dunham’s decision to settle by the Chiricahua Mountains—a place he thought had never been planted on before. However, shortly after purchasing the property, he found out that they weren’t actually the first people who had found the land ideal for growing. The area’s original farmers, the native people who had lived there hundreds of years ago, grew crops by the creek, leaving relics of the past scattered about.

“That’s what inspired our tagline, Earth’s Fruit Comes Full Circle, and what we designed our label around,” says Dunham. “The first circle is in honor of the first farmers; the second circle is the second generation of farmers growing grapes there; and the third circle represents us turning the grapes into wine.”

Truly bringing things full circle, Dunham and his wife opened LDV Wine Gallery-Tasting Room in a cozy re-modeled home in Downtown Scottsdale, giving guests a chance to sample exquisite wines and take-home some of the Chiricahua’s magic.

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